Overhaul of disaster recovery aid needed: NBRA chief

Changes need to be made to limit confusion over disaster recovery payments, the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements has heard.

A “no wrong door” approach and a one-stop shop principles would help deliver relief quickly to victims, National Bushfire Recovery Agency coordinator Andrew Colvin said.

“It would be ideal that a victim of a bushfire only ever needs to talk to one person and tell their story once, Mr Colvin told the royal commission.

“So it means we need to be flexible.

“The states and territories have been extremely cooperative in that desire to find a way that we can design a relief and recovery process that suits the needs of every community, noting that … every community is different and even within those communities every individual’s journey to recovery is entirely different.”

Commenting on the forthcoming review of disaster recovery funding arrangements, Mr Colvin  said: “Most of our recovery from disaster frameworks have relied on the principle that you needed to be directly affected by the flood or by the hurricane, the cyclone, by the fire.

“What we quickly found, once we started to consult with the communities, is that the indirect impact of this particular event was massive. And that the DRFA didn’t properly contemplate, and some of our arrangements didn’t properly contemplate, how to deal with that.

“So we had to quickly find ways to deal with that indirect impact, and I think that is still an ongoing issue. But that is one of the issues, I think, under the DRFA that needs to be looked at and I know will be looked at.”

In other news, the royal commission has released an Issues Paper for comment on the role of local governments in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters.

Comment on the questions raised in the paper are due  by 18 June, and may be emailed to cnda.submissions@royalcommission.gov.au